DANCING IN THE DARK

Standard

 

Through the eyes of alcoholics reality is not seen

Casting down a glass

They choose instead to drink from the bottle

Brightness is sought in the dead of night

Darkness arrives in the morn

When liquid hell permeates the brain

The alcoholic’s intellect mirrors insight

Truth speaks otherwise

 

Unceasing rain batters the windshield making it near impossible to see. The road is dirt, dropping off into ditches on both sides. These trenches are waterways deep enough to swallow any vehicle leaving the road. Darkness is having a dinner party, and the guest list includes disaster; I pray it does not show.

I am awash in fear, voices yell in my head in cadence with water flinging wipers. I am a drunk in need of a drink. The need is three weeks old. Thoughts lurch through brain cells like angry fire flies, they blink, they scold. You desensitized all your relationships, such a fool you are! If you had pictures on the mantle they would only be of you. Your daily life makes nightmares seem like a very peaceful place. Loser is what you are!

His name is Jordan, the man I am driving to see. Jordan has somehow remained sober for thirty-six years and I want what he has. I was given his name at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. AA members tell me sobriety heals the mind. Continuing to drink will insure death, sheer spurning guaranties lunacy. Wild bees begin to swarm inside my psyche, and voices yell in the darkness. Jordan’s log cabin appears between wiper swipes. Pulling in to the drive, I sense something in the back seat and quickly leave the car slamming the door. Walking onto the porch, the door opens without knocking.

“You do know there are two kinds of dry Bobby, and you’re mighty wet; welcome to the cabin, I’m Jordan. Let me take your jacket. Go sit by the fire, I’ll pour us coffee. Nasty night to be driving, did you have any trouble getting here?”

“Never bothered me a bit Jordan, they call me Mr. Tough.”

“A rough dude I see, coffee black?”

“Yeah black is fine.” My shaking hands spill coffee. I set the cup on the barn wood table.

“When was your last drink Bobby?”

“Three weeks ago.”

“You do not need coffee, Mr. Shaky, you need sugar. I keep a jug of orange juice with Karo syrup in the fridge; I’ll pour you a glass.”

“Fine, and don’t call me Mr. Shaky.”

“If you want me to be your sponsor I’ll call you what I damn well please. If you really want to get sober, the first word to learn is acceptance, a day at a time. Now chug down the juice, I’ll pour you another.”

The warmth of the cabin and several glasses of Jordan’s super juice calm me. “Jordan I did not mean to be nasty but it’s the way I am.”

“I was the same way Bobby, took me seven to ten years to unravel the spaghetti in my head.”

“That long! Are you telling me ten years? I’ll be dead in ten years.”

“I’m telling you how long it took me to be completely sober. That does not mean your quality of life lags behind. When I first started attending AA meetings I was completely insane.”

Are you calling me crazy? Don’t you think insane is a bit much?”

“No Mr. shaky, insane is what we are. Consider this; you are in a room with two doors. Behind door one is a three hundred pound guy with a ball bat. Behind door two is a blonde in a Corvette. A drunk will choose door one, get beaten by that bat, over and over and over. That is what we do, every time we take another drink, and yes, it is insanity. How many years have you been drinking?”

“Eleven years old is when I had my first drunk, and now I’m thirty-six, do the math; I cant think.”

“Twenty-five years, twenty-five years of door number one, qualifies as being insane. Bobby, what drove you to AA?”

“I discovered I drank when I did not want to drink. My life is like living in a trash can! I’ve lost my job, wife, kids…but I, I still wanted… no needed to drink.”

“You are powerless over alcohol Bobby; powerless! Your life is unmanageable. If you do not stop drinking, you will die; understand? There is only one way. Make a decision to turn your will and life over to the care of God. If the word God pushes you away from AA, the bottle will push you back. Are you are an alcoholic Bobby?”

“Yes I am I am.”

I begin sobbing, and time seems to stand still. I can feel hate, and resentments clawing their way out. All of the despicable things I have done were flashing through my mind. Seeing the real me without a fake facade is crushing my ego. Pain shaking hands with joy is the most awkward feeling wounding yet healing.

“Go ahead and cry Bobby, just let it out. Everything inside this home stays here.”

For the next hour and a half I pour out my sordid past. Every horrid happening, never divulged to a living soul, lay bare. I had lied about much of the past. The real truth plus lies, having been spun in minds blender, leaving me unable to distinguish between reality and make believe.

“That is all Jordan, the garbage truck is empty; I am ashamed.”

“Don’t be. I’ve heard worse. Now bury it right here, covering it with a shovel; then break the shovel handle so it will never be dug up.” Jordan, pausing for a moment, continues.Have you ever wondered why rear view mirrors are smaller than windshields?”

Never thought about it.”

They allow only a glimpse of what is behind you. Windshields offer a panoramic view of what is in front of you. The point is this; do not dwell in the past live in the present.”

“Is this the meaning of a day at a time?”

“Yes, yesterday is history tomorrow a mystery, just live today. It is going to take sometime but if you stick with me you will have a life that will be beyond belief.”

“How did you stay sober for so long?”

“I keep repeating a quote from the poet Dorothy Parker, which I have turned around; I’d rather have a frontal lobotomy then a bottle in front of me.”

Jordan, reaching into a drawer, retrieves a copy of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is yours Bobby, take it home and read Chapter five. If you feel like taking a drink call me first, I will answer twenty-four seven. Today is Tuesday, I’ll see you at my home group Wednesday at eight PM. Walk slow, and drink lots of orange juice with Karo syrup.”

“Thanks Jordan, will you be my sponsor?”

“Yes, Mr. Shaky, I will.”

As I drive away, I soon realize an unusual feeling is present. One not felt in such a long time I cannot describe it. What is this, this sensation? I begin to cry again, as I identify the lost feeling; it is peace. Smiling with wet eyes I turn on the radio for the first time in years. The song is Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark, and I think; I can make it; I can make it a day at a time.

Winds of change in sobriety become puffs

Pouring down from mountains of hope

Storm clouds form not and

Pain no longer travels on currents of regret